I’ve always wanted to write a novel….

How many times have I heard this? How many times have you said it?

As one who has finally done it (CAIRNAERIE), I can tell you, it’s not as hard as it seems. You just put words on paper, organize them the way you like, find some honest friends willing to give you helpful feedback, then you edit till the cows come in. (You’ll know when the cows are in when you’re sick to death of it and when it’s as good as you think YOU can make it.)

Modern technology makes it especially easy because you can so easily rework sentences, recast paragraphs, and completely rearrange a story with just a good computer and basic word processing knowledge.

We writers really do have it easy these days. I’ve often thought how difficult it must have been for Charles Dickens or Mark Twain or Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy to write a novel. Everything had to be written and edited by hand. My guess is that their process was more fluid and natural, and that what came out of their brains onto paper was smoother on the first pass. I certainly don’t have that talent.

And then after all their work, publication required a printer to work letter by letter, slipping lead slugs into a press wooden frame before printing a book one page at a time. Start to finish, writing a novel was labor intensive.

Then there was distribution. They had no internet “friends” list as I did; friends who stepped up in a big way to help me launch my book. They had no Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, or Twitter feeds. They had no Print On Demand or Amazon.

And they certainly had no CreateSpace.

All they had was massive talent and determination, the latter perhaps the most difficult bar to cross. I wonder how many of Charles Dickens’ friends said, “I always wanted to write a book.” Back then, they had reason feel daunted. Today, we don’t.

Today’s writers we have the luxury of speed, ease, and endless edits, even when we are lesser talents than these masters. All it takes, really, is honesty and perseverance….and some great friends.

 

 

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